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M20 coastbound closed tonight between Maidstone and Ashford as work to remove Operation Brock contraflow continues

By Mary Graham

Drivers are being warned to prepare for another M20 closure as work to stand down Operation Brock runs overnight.

Highways England is removing the contraflow system between junctions 8 and 9, but says the steel barrier separating the lanes, and the temporary 50mph speed limit, will remain in place in case Brock is needed again.

The measures were put in place last month to keep the M20 open in both directions between junctions 8 and 9 overs fears of disruption across the English Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Operation Brock has been in place on M20 between junctions 8 and 9. The motorway is shown in Harrietsham. Picture: Andy Jones.
Operation Brock has been in place on M20 between junctions 8 and 9. The motorway is shown in Harrietsham. Picture: Andy Jones.

Tonight, the M20 will be closed coastbound between junctions 7 (Maidstone/A249) and 9 (Ashford) from 8pm until 6am tomorrow. Diversions will run via the A249, M2, A2 and A20.

This allows the removal of the cross-overs which transfer traffic from the coast-bound side of the motorway into the contraflow.

Work began on Friady night and highways bosses have booked closures until Thursday, but say they hope to finish earlier.

When the deactivation is complete drivers heading coast-bound will be able to use the three-lane coast-bound carriageway. The national speed limit will apply, except for two short sections of 50mph close to junctions 8 and 9 where work areas for the cross-overs have to be kept.

All London-bound traffic will use the hard shoulder and lane one on the opposite side. The speed limit will be 50mph. Average speed cameras will remain in operation.

The scene from Sandyhurst Lane in Ashford.Picture: Andy Jones
The scene from Sandyhurst Lane in Ashford.Picture: Andy Jones

Operations director Duncan Smith said: “The deployment of the contraflow on the M20 has been a prudent measure reflecting the threat of potential disruption. Scaling it back now is a sensible response to the changing outlook, and restores capacity on the motorway in time for the Easter bank holiday weekend.

"We are grateful to drivers and residents in Kent for their patience while the contraflow is in place and for driving safely.”

A Highways England spokesman added it takes several weeks to take down the steel barrier which is why it needs to stay.

Political pressure to lift the traffic restrictions had been building throughout last week.

The Kent Messenger revealed while in place, since March 28, Operation Brock cost the taxpayer around £9,600 a day in hotel bills for extra staff.

Highways England brought in 80 traffic officers from other areas to join their 140 strong army in Kent.

But the wave of re-enforcements came with a price tag of £119 per person per day to put them up in hotels.

Head to our politics page for more on Op Brock and other developments in the county.

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